Sunday in Outer Blogness: People and families edition!

I have done all that I can to ensure that my kids will never have to choose between having a relationship with their father and his partner whom they both love, and being involved in the church that their mother loves.

Now, because my boys live with me part time, they are excluded from membership in the church unless they receive approval from the First Presidency. I’m really hurting. Just when I thought that I had found a way to live with tolerance toward the church they’ve come out and attacked my family in a very personal way.

That’s from Devon Gibby. Let’s read some more from the people affected by the latest policy change of the CoJCoL-dS, like GodGitsGud:

Of all the cruel and vindictive things the church has done to him and these (now teenaged) children, this move sets a tragic new standard. They have already had to grow up with their mother telling them constantly that their father is a demented faggot who will burn in hell. But they weren’t barred from every important ritual before. Every child of these “fix the gay” marriages -which are essentially doomed to failure- AND WHICH THE CHURCH ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED, has and will be publicly shamed, set apart from their peers, and treated as beyond the reach of God.

From Uomo Nuovo:

My children are directly effected by this new policy. Though half of them have already left the LDS Church, our four younger children are still taken to church by their mother, and I have an adult son who remains active in the Church. If that son decides to go on a mission, he will now – in the language of the new policy – need to “specifically disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage,” and his request to serve will then have to be approved by the First Presidency of the Church. In other words, he will have to denounce me and my husband Mark and will be stigmatized, not because of his own actions, but because of mine.

From lala:

I have two beautiful children. Their father, who I married in the temple, is gay. We are no longer married. I have remained faithful. Fulfilled callings, attend regularly, we read scriptures and have fhe…they have both been baptized already, but this, this right here will be the breaking point. I cannot, will not ask them to choose between the church and their father. I will not ask them to “disavow” him in order to stay in a church that doesn’t want them.

But why? Well…

The wonderful truth of our church is that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us. And in this case, that plan involves wielding the children of same-sex marriages as a pressure point to attempt to dislodge and shatter these marriages and families.

In other words, from Steve Bloor:

Yet the power to punish innocent children, or withhold “blessings” from them, seems entirely gratuitous on the surface. This policy, however, is not about punishing children. It is about exploiting children. Yes, exploiting. As in, using children as a means to an end. As in, using children as leverage to control the parents, and extended families, and the courts of the Intermountain West of the United States.

Which leads to a really interesting question by Dad’s Primal Scream:

Can I use this as evidence in court that my child’s participation in church is an act of alienating them from me?

Plus, the policy seems to have a bit of a consistency problem:

Barry’s half-sibling Shannon (who does not have a homosexual parent and is a baptized member) is also very excited at this new development. “While I have been freely supporting gay marriage on social media since March when church apostle D. Todd Christofferson said that Mormons who support gay marriage are not in danger of losing their temple privileges or church memberships, I think that it’s totally fair that Barry is required to completely disavow the practice,” said Shannon. “I will be watching his Facebook posts very carefully after his baptism to ensure that unlike me he does not show any support for his father’s choices.”

And it’s a problem for the members that they’re expected to sustain anything that comes out of headquarters — without being able to predict what it will be next. Some aren’t happy about it. From Christine:

Honestly, I feel like the church is bringing persecution to us. Just shut up about it. Just stop. No person and no organization is going to change gay marriage. Please stop putting a target on my back and making me have to answer for this.

Some members, however, are taking back to the leaders.

Also many people are offering feelings and comfort.

Additional thoughts include the parallels with the treatment of polygamy, Mormon Monopoly on Jesus, what would Jesus do, what about punishing people for their own sins?, looking on the bright side, the church should grow up, and what the children will learn from this.

Does it make sense for the CoJCoL-dS to categorize gay marriage as apostasy? The Catholics seem to have taken the opposite strategy:

Pope Francis continues to urge Catholic priests not to block gay couples from having their children baptized. Speaking last Sunday during an ordination mass in the Vatican, Francis reminded that priests should not refuse baptism to anyone who asks for the sacrament. The pontiff told the priests: “With baptism, you unite the new faithful to the people of God. It is never necessary to refuse baptism to someone who asks for it.”

On the lighter side, this inspired memes, including getting punished for Adam and Steve’s transgression and whether Jesus wants you for a sunbeam. In satire: “Morally Bankrupt LDS Church Acts on Anti-Same-Sex Thoughts.” The Expert Textperts have some great tips for how to cope — I’ve been using #6 myself.

On the other side of the story, ever since the policy was leaked (from the text of a restricted handbook), the faithful have scrambled to explain how misguided you are to think this is bad. They can’t seem to stop making it worse. (Why bring Bill Nye into this?) For example:

Myth #4 Requires Children to Reject Parents […] They do not need to say anything about their parents. This is the same standard expected of every convert who has a parent that still smokes when to be baptized they must specifically agree to the word of wisdom. Children in this situation must simply recognize the Church’s teachings on sin.

Why won’t people understand that the just have to say something about their parents’ marriage….? (Specifically that it’s not a marriage, hence that their family isn’t a family, and, potentially, that a beloved step-parent isn’t really a parent. S/he’s just your mom or dad’s stinky bad habit.)

The main excuse seems to involve protecting kids from mixed-messages — which seems to mean protecting them from the trauma of getting told at church that their families aren’t real families. Otherwise, taken at face value, their argument doesn’t make a whole lot of sense:

Where is the outcry for child protection in families where one parent is an atheist, or from another religion, or an alcoholic, or abusive etc. You can go on and on with the thousands of “conflicting” scenarios current LDS children already exist and learn to live in. If the LDS church trusts those families, children and adults to figure out what works for them, why step in where children of LGBT families are concerned?

When church allows a little flexibility, there’s room for examples like this one on the one hand, and like this on the other:

My parents let me drink alcohol from the age of like… 12. They were not religious at all. They regularly told me reasons the church was bad. They also encouraged “having sex with enough people to figure out who you’re compatible with”, and only one of them gave me permission to get baptized. That was good enough for the church, who are absolutely fine with kids leaving the majority of their parents’ religions, lifestyles, and beliefs in order to join the church. There are endless other scenarios where a child is taught differently at home than at church.

Perhaps the most grotesquely callous of the “Myths” was “Myth #7 This Hurts Me Personally” — willfully ignoring an outpouring of stories of people who really are hurt by the policy, including the possibility of suicide. Natasha Helfer Parker has asked people to distribute the information about mental health resources to those who might be needing them right now.

Is intentional polarization a good strategy for the CoJCoL-dS? It seems like the CoJCoL-dS is inviting its less-orthodox members to simply leave — so that they will stop influencing the others:

Its obvious to everyone what would happen if we let gay families be part of Mormon congregations: they would look like normal, happy, healthy Mormon families, they would talk like normal, happy, healthy Mormon families, they would serve and love and mourn and give their lives to the church like all the other normal, happy, healthy Mormon families.

In other words, they would be happy, healthy Mormon families and people would stop caring altogether that they were gay. They would pass the Turing test. So we can’t let them take the test.

This policy change stinks to high heaven because the policy transparently acknowledges that this is the case.

And attractive alternatives are waiting to welcome them

If the above isn’t enough discussion for you, there are also a number of podcasts on the subject!

My apologies to anyone who wrote on any other subject this past week. I’ll try to include you in next week’s SiOB. This topic was just too explosive to share with any other. My thoughts are with everyone affected by this policy today.

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chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

12 thoughts on “Sunday in Outer Blogness: People and families edition!

  1. So how’s that bridge building going?
    When I hear talk of a hundred flowers blooming, I put on the hazmat suit cuz here comes the defoliant. Wasn’t expecting the herbicide.
    Who thinks kids are weeds. Gotta preserve the sterile monoculture.

  2. @1 Yes, it’s a big blow for those who were hoping the CoJCoL-dS can and will soften on this issue.

    Here are some further links:

    More satire, memes, and X-Mormonads — my new favorite is Doubt your dads before you doubt your faith.

    Here’s a video about a teen who now won’t be going on a mission because his dad is gay.

    Kiwi Mormon is sneaking off to another religion, and those that stay could maybe think about the issue a bit more before defending the church’s policy.

    Even those who have been done with the CoJCoL-dS for a long time are upset by this latest development.

  3. Some good analysis from Kalani:

    One of the things I’ve been sitting with for the past several hours is the idea that we are withholding the Gift of the Holy Ghost from children who, according to Elder Christofferson, should be numbered among the most vulnerable of our population. I think back on my formative years, and I think about how much I relied on the teachings of the church and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and I just can’t imagine a loving God saying, “You know what? You know who probably doesn’t really need the Holy Ghost all that much? People who are surrounded on a day to day basis with “particularly grievous and significant, serious sin.”” Like, seriously, y’all. What the everlovinghell is going on with this logic? I really, REALLY don’t get it.

    Secondly, how is Primary significantly more detrimental to children living with good, loving parents who are in a same sex relationship than it is for children living with good, loving parents who are cohabitating out of wedlock…or good, loving parents who do not keep the word of wisdom and expose their children to the “evils of drinking,” or children like mine — who were not born in the covenant, whose father is a convicted murderer, and whose mother has no intention of remarrying any time in the near future, but is, nevertheless, a good mother, ifidosaysomyself?

    Plus some more videos on the guy who leaked the information to reddit and a new mass resignation event.

  4. This policy might make some sense, if the church has not been so cavalier about baptizing youth of non-member families, often completely disrupting that family, to the extent that the parents felt betrayed by their child for joining the Mormon Church, even to the extent that the child was told to leave home. There was no concern then about the conflict between what was heard at home and what was heard at church. In fact it was celebrated as clinging to the iron rod and sacrificing for the Lord.

    At no point were young people, at least in my experience, told to postpone baptism, or don’t go on a mission, and encourage to maintain a good relationship with their parents and family, and in the Lord’s due time they would be baptized without disrupting their family.

    The church appears to be quite selective about what they define as family.

  5. Considering it a bit further, the LDS Church is saying that cohabiting homosexuals are in a state of apostasy, and children residing in an apostate home cannot partake of church blessings, until such time as they are out of the home and disavow the apostate behavior.

    The principle, then, if there is one, seems to be that a child living in any apostate home cannot be baptized, etc.
    An apostate home consists of any home where one or more parents belong to an apostate religions, which includes all religions except the LDS Church. In fact, technically, a member married to and residing with a non-member certainly is out of line with the divine order of things, and not entitled to the full blessing here or in the eternity (you know, they may make it to the Celestial Kingdom, but only as servants to those who lived the gospel fully will on earth).

    So protect all the children in apostate homes by not baptizing any of them.

  6. The question has arisen if the apostles believe. And I think they had to have noticed Jesus never attends the board meetings.
    So when I look at the tea leaves, study the entrails, cast the bones, what I divine is a bunch of old men latching on, with gorilla glue, to the central pillar of their world view– Father knows best.

  7. @4 & @5 Sure, if you expect their policies to be consistent and logical. 😉

    @6 I think so too. They’ve kind of painted themselves into a corner with the issue of homosexuality: it has become abundantly clear that they were dead wrong on this issue, but they can’t admit to their mistake and make amends.

    Honestly, I think the true point of the policy is that want all of the post-mixed-orientation-marriage families to just go away.

  8. I guess to paraphrase Joseph Smith, if something can be wrong at one time, but right at another, it really is silly to expect consistency. So this war against families we hear so much about from the church, requires an equally aggressive war by the church against other families. What would we call that–collateral damage in the war to protect families?

  9. @8 I think that’s exactly it — they’ve already accepted the post-mixed-orientation-marriage families are collateral damage. They’re not making the church look good, they’re (unintentionally) showing their friends in the ward that the church is a villain, so they church would prefer they just go away.

  10. It is interesting that the folks in Salt Lake are content, so they say, to leave it up to the locals as to who they discipline, and the consequence of that discipline. Local leaders can remove anyone they want from church membership, without consultation or interference from SLC.

    On the other hand, in certain cases, who gets admitted to the club is beyond the locals and needs approval from the highest tier of red chairs.

    It is strange that locals can know who isn’t worthy of membership, but they aren’t capable of determining who IS worth of membership.

    Strange religion.

  11. @10 Yes, the whole “Don’t blame us — it’s the local leaders” thing is such a joke.

    Another interesting point I noticed just now:

    Aside from the links criticising John Dehlin for having broken the story, none of the official responses acknowledge that the story was leaked. They seem to want to pretend like the CoJCoL-dS announced this change:

    The changes were made this week in the Church’s Handbook 1 (a policy and instruction guide for local Church leaders) and were approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The revisions were outlined in a letter that was sent to local Church leaders throughout the world (see the video and read the transcript of the interview below).

    If you were an outsider reading that without context from other sources, it sure sounds like the CoJCoL-dS itself informed members throughout the world about this change by sending a letter to their local leaders. The fact that the change was rolled out as “effective immediately” — in a handbook that members outside the leadership hierarchy are explicitly not allowed to read — is a pretty glaring omission…

  12. the policy might also make some sense if the church weren’t so cavalier about making people choose between being married in the temple and having a ceremony that can be attended by everyone they love.

    No one believes this nonsense they’re using to justify that horrible policy except those who will accept anything they’re told by the leaders, and as many have pointed out, they’ve already ceded their moral authority to someone else, so who cares what they think?

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